A MAN crept into a house in the early hours to steal car keys before taking the car and crashing it.
Stephen Fletcher and an accomplice he refuses to name took the X-Type Jaguar from outside the owner’s house in Horden, Durham Crown Court heard.
“The front door of the house may have been unlocked,” said Martin Towers, prosecuting. “The car was taken as the owners slept upstairs.
“At about 3.30am it crashed through a garden wall in Blackhall Colliery.
“The car was forensically examined and the defendant’s fingerprints were found on the passenger side, and on the door to the burgled property.
“Fletcher told police the car was driven by somebody else who had dropped him off at home, so he had no knowledge of the crash.
“The Crown does not seek to disprove that account, but we do say this sequence of offending was a joint enterprise.”
Fletcher, 19, of Keswick Road, Peterlee, admitted burglary and aggravated vehicle taking on July 25.
He has previous convictions for vehicle taking and theft.
Martin Scarborough, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Fletcher had foolishly taken Valium that day which someone else had given him.
“He now has a young son, and he has had jobs in the in the past.”
“There is the offer of work as a labourer or possibly in a call centre. His record does show some offending as a juvenile, but he has not been before a court since 2010.”
Judge Penny Moreland sentenced Fletcher to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, a supervision order of 12 months, and 150 hours of community work.
The judge told him: “Taking this car would have caused great upset, inconvenience and expense to its owners.
“You have no previous convictions for burglary, but you have committed car crime in the past.
“The fact that you are still a very young man just enables me to suspend the appropriate sentence.”